A former Mothercare director has sparked fury over her plans to turn a 500-year-old Grade II listed village pub into a children's nursery.
Fiona Murray-Young submitted proposals to change the use of the Swan Pub in Ley Hill, Buckinghamshire, causing concern among some residents who fear excessive noise and swarms of traffic in the village.
Retired medical researcher and resident Sarah Peterson said: ‘‘Everybody is up in arms because the noise that would be generated from having children playing is quite substantial.
"The other thing is, the pub doesn’t have a car park, it will be an absolute nightmare. ‘
‘We’ve got a petition with over 300 signatures and are looking at trying to raise the funds between a group of people to buy it.’’
The day nursery would provide care for 33 children aged from three months to five years who would attend for a full day; and a further 14 who would attend only morning or afternoon sessions. It would open between 7:30 am and 6:30pm.
South Bucks District Council has received more than forty letters of objection over the plans to convert the property, believed to have been built during the 1600s.
During World War II the pub was a favourite haunt of Hollywood stars such as Oscar winners Clark Gable and James Stewart, and jazz musician Glenn Miller.
Construction work on the nursery would involve the demolition of parts of the historic pub’s interior, and the scale of the re-modelling has lead some to question the building’s suitability to play host to a group of infants.
"The building is unsuitable to be converted to a nursery and there would be people coming in and out of a narrow village lane. The loss of a grade II listed building to the community, is not something to be agreed without significant consideration,’’ said Mary Buckman, Parish Councillor for Latimer and Ley.
However, Ms Murray-Young, who currently works as a consultant, has responded to claims suggesting a nursery would disturb the tranquility of the quaint village.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph she said: ‘‘ I know that noise is a comment that has been made but I don't really see that because actually pubs are quite noisy and I would wonder why parking would be any different to a pub?
"I think it's important that a building, as beautiful as that, is saved in whatever way and it's a good thing that somebody is willing to invest in it.’’
While residents are keen to see the Swan remain a pub its landlord, Nigel Byatt, has stated that it has been up for sale for two years.
"As a publican I too am concerned about the closing of pubs. I’ve tried to sell it as a pub, but had absolutely no interest. The reality is that we have to move on,’’ he said.
A spokesperson for South Bucks District Council said: ‘’The application is still open for neighbours comments and a decision expected in September. Until then we can’t comment.’’